Rejection – Does anyone like to be rejected? I highly doubt most people enjoy being rejected. This last week has reminded me what a horrible feeling rejection is and what it can do in my relationship. I am still feeling the effects and it may be a while before they fully go away. Am I being overly dramatic, maybe but I will explain.
I have been with my wife for 20+ years. We were high school sweethearts and got married soon after we graduated. We were so much in love with each other. People used to always comment on what a loving couple we seemed to be. We grew up in almost opposite environments. She had 2 loving parents who supported her and her siblings in everything they did. Their family was, I guess they still are, very close. They were what I used to think of as the All-American family. They did summer vacations, dinner on the table at 5:00pm, Friday night HS football,… I did not grow up in anything like this, in fact it was so opposite that it still has it claws in me now. Every time I think that I have removed them completely from my life they find a way to pounce back in.
As our marriage went along I think we took two very different paths in what we thought our family should look like. I never had what she had, but I also knew that it was also an archaic thing of the past. With different work schedules than the normal 9-5 and the amount of activities that our kids do there was no way it was happening. She has struggled with this more than I have, but that is completely because she knew what it was like. We never fought over this, it just was and I know she misses it. But she still has a close family and she is making ours like that just in a different way. Our kids are all close to each other and they know they are loved and supported by us. None of this really has to do with rejection but it gives you a little background into what I am about to write.
I am that person who displays an extremely large amount of self-confidence. I act confident in everything that I do in every area of my life but my relationship with my wife and kids. My wife never for one moment thought that all this confidence was anything more than what I needed to survive. I need to put that persona out there in order to protect myself. But deep down I am extremely insecure. I came from an environment that was devoid of love and so when I found it I have struggled to know how to handle it. I don’t know how to show love and I struggle to understand when she is showing me how much she loves me.
As our marriage went along it traveled down paths neither of us expected. Many of our adventures brought us closer. They forced us to rely on each other just to make it and keep our sanity. The only big problem was my connections with love. I have always equated love with physical affection. It doesn’t mean just sex, but in a marriage that is a big part of it. So as our marriage went through some lulls, it affected me more than anyone expected. There was a point where I honestly believed that my wife no longer loved me. It took years and years for this to develop but it made it to this point and it nearly destroyed us. I couldn’t make her happy and in turn I was miserable. We are still fighting this battle and so every rejection seems to set me tumbling backwards. I now seems that every type of rejection in my life has more of an impact than it ever has before. Little things that I used to blow off now can quickly bring me down. I am sure depression has something to do with it but it is more. She thought that because I was so confident in all the other areas of my life that I didn’t need the constant reinforcement that she loved me. She took for granted that it was just assumed she loved me and I did not need my ego inflated any more than it already was, or so it seemed. Each year that past slowly got worse than the one before it and what little self-esteem slowly disintegrated and so did our relationship. The constant rejection and lack of validation destroyed who I once was. That part of me will never come back, it died, but we are trying to make something new. I do not blame my wife for any of it. She was as lost as I was during this time and she never did it intentionally nor did she really know what was going on inside of me.
This last week I seemed to have one rejection after another and they were the worst kind. Everything would be going well, very well and then unexpectedly it would come out of nowhere and slap me in the face. It happened through my kids, my wife, my job, you name it, I probably had some type of rejection associated to it this week. Now I struggle to talk about it. I need to bring it up with my wife. If I can’t then it only sets us farther back down our path of healing. But all it does by me talking about it is open me back up for more rejection. The things that happened with my wife and kids I don’t think they really knew that it would affect me as it has. They don’t even realize that they rejected me and that in itself makes me feel either inadequate or overly sensitive. I feel like I should not bother with it because to them nothing has happened. I should just get over it. But I cannot seem to and that is eating me up.
How do I live when the things I love and the only things that love me back, don’t want parts of me? I know I am not being very specific and I need to be a little coy on this but surprisingly it is not related to sex. The rejection was something different and that is another reason I struggle with it. I have a hard time understanding love outside of physical affection, so when it shows up I don’t always know how to deal with it. Obviously the rejection with my kids was something entirely different than with my wife but almost as damaging. What do I want or need to not feel rejected? I don’t really know. And that is part of the problem. I don’t seem to see some of them until they are right on top of me, smothering me.
Right now I am sitting at my desk at home wondering if I should approach the subject. I know I need to but then she will feel bad even though there was no intent on her part. I also know this is not a one-sided affair. I try to go out of my way to show my wife that I love her and help her at every opportunity I can. I try to show her love through touch and service, but I don’t know if it gets through. I don’t know what I should expect. Instead, I do things and see if they work or if I fail again. Each time I try, I make notes to myself about the outcome and then go back and puzzle it out.
So now what….
Where do I go from here besides crazy? Why can’t it just be easy and you get accepted for everything you are, every little crazy neurotic piece.
This post did not go anywhere I wanted it to but I guess that is what happens when this is my only outlet for the moment. Stuff comes out and I try and make sense of it as I go. I try and make myself understand what is going on in my head and my life. Neither is an easy task.
I love my wife and all I want is for her to love me back. If only I knew myself better then I could tell her what that looks like. What it takes to show me that she loves me. What she can do to validate our feelings for each other and then maybe she can tell me as well.
Blaaaahhhhh…… I think it would be easier to find a one-eyed unicorn.